Have you traveled by air recently and noticed a shorter security line at the airport with a sign posted for "TSA Pre-Check"? Or have you been lucky enough to have a notation on your boarding pass that said something like "TSA Pre-Check"?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now has a program called Pre-Check which selects random air passengers to go through that shorter line at the airport security point. They are not required to remove their shoes or belt, nor to take their laptops out, when passing through security. Obviously, getting through airport security is a much simpler process without those conditions.
If you'd like to increase your chances of being selected for the Pre-Check line, you can request a Known Traveler Number (KTN) with the TSA. It's a simple process that you can initiate online. You have to visit one of the TSA's local offices to finalize the process and provide a set of your fingerprints. Then they do a full background check on you. If you can pass the background check then they create a KTN for you. There are some conditions that you should read before you start this process. It does cost $85 but it's good for five years.
See this link for more information:
Once you have a KTN, you just need to include it in any airline reservations that you book. You can also add it to your profile if you have an online account with any of the airlines, so it will be automatically included on any future reservations.
I've recently gone through this process and found it pretty simple. I started my application online and booked an appointment to go to the office. When I arrived, they took me right in, reviewed my online application with me and helped me to use their digital fingerprint machine to create my fingerprint images for my records. The whole thing only took about 10 minutes.
To me, it's well worth the $85 fee to make my travel just a little less stressful. I most often travel with my kids. They can go through the pre-check line with me until they are 13, then they have to get their own KTN. I'm hoping I'll never have to wait in the long "cattle call" lines at airport security again...